DALE Steyn’s face curled into a strange smile after Nathan McCullum clouted him to the cover boundary in the last over of South Africa’s World T20 match against New Zealand in Chittagong yesterday.
Two balls later, SA had won by two runs to keep their campaign alive. How, no one could say. But we know why Steyn was smiling: for him fantasy can become reality.
“Dale Steyn proved again why he has been the world’s best bowler for such a long period of time,” Faf du Plessis said.
“As a captain, to have a guy like that in your team makes anything possible.
“New Zealand got themselves into a position where they should have won. Something special was going to be required to try and take it away from them. Dale did just that.”
When Steyn’s smile first twisted, New Zealand needed three runs off those last two balls. Defeat for SA would have all but ended their campaign.
What the hell did Steyn have to smile about?
McCullum slapped the next delivery waist-high to extra cover. Du Plessis dived on a wing and held on to the catch. Steyn’s smile spread wider.
The batsmen had crossed. Ross Taylor, who had looked every inch the captain in command in scoring 62 not out, was on strike.
Now, three runs were needed off the last ball. Steyn steamed in and pitched the fateful death ray on off stump.
Taylor swung from the heels but could only thunk the ball into the pitch. Steyn did the fielding and roared into the outfield, his eyes as ablaze as the LED- armed bails he had set tumbling at the non-striker’s end for the runout.
As he did so, his smile shape- shifted into a roar.
Out of nowhere, Steyn had bowled the Proteas to victory with his haul of 4/17.
SA were able to total 170/6 yesterday because Hashim Amla hung tough and JP Duminy let fly.
Amla’s 41 off 40 balls kept the innings intact after Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers were dismissed with 42 runs scored.
Duminy’s aggression and Amla’s work ethic was an alloy New Zealand could not break until the 14th over when Amla was dismissed in bizarre fashion.
Amla drove Corey Anderson hard, straight and in the air. Duminy tried to take evasive action, but the ball struck his bat and popped up for Anderson to catch and end a stand of 55.
Man of the match Duminy stayed to hammer an unbeaten 86, scoring 16 of the 17 SA took off the 17th over, 15 of the 17 that came off the 19th, and 10 of the 13 that flowed off the 20th.
“As a blueprint for how to play an innings in a game like this, you won’t find much better,” Du Plessis said.
Taylor did a similar job for New Zealand, putting on 51 with Kane Williamson – who had shared a stand of 57 with Martin Guptill. Williamson fell for 51 to a fine catch at deep midwicket by De Villiers.
ýIn the later game, Sri Lanka crushed the Netherlands by nine wickets after bowling their rivals out for the lowest-ever World Twenty20 total of 39.
Ajantha Mendis (3/12), Angelo Mathews (3/16) and Lasith Malinga (2/5) wrecked their opponents in 10.3 overs, before Sri Lanka knocked off the target in just five overs for their second Group One win in the Super-10 stage.
The Netherlands, sent in to bat, lost half their side for 25 before losing the rest for just 14 runs, beating the previous lowest score of 56 made by Kenya against Afghanistan at Sharjah last year.
Tom Copper top-scored with 16.
Sri Lanka beat SA by five runs in their first match. – Telford Vice, AFP